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The Link Between Exercise and Work Productivity: How Exercising Will Make You Work Better

Working during a global pandemic can be difficult and stressful. The uncertainties brought by the pandemic can make people feel anxious and insecure.

Also, since moving to a work-from-home setup, many employees are experiencing Zoom fatigue. This term refers to the tiredness one feels from constant virtual communication, especially video conference calls. Because of these issues, employees usually take longer to accomplish certain tasks than before.

You have a plethora of solutions to choose from if you’re having trouble staying productive at work. You can ask for help from your colleagues, implement a new time management strategy, and so on. But there’s one thing you can do that is probably the easiest of all: become physically active.

How Exercise Improves Productivity

There’s a reason why big companies offer free gym memberships. It’s because of the direct relationship between exercise and work productivity: the more you exercise, the more productive you’ll become. Here’s how that works:

Elevate Mood

Sometimes, one’s mood gets in the way of work. If a person feels sad, they might fixate on that feeling and end up not completing some of their tasks. Or if that person is angry, their rage may hinder their thinking and prevent them from working smoothly.

Exercise influences mood. For example, exercise can boost your serotonin and dopamine levels. Serotonin helps you feel happier and more relaxed, while dopamine helps you feel more motivated and alert. By activating these brain chemicals, you will be able to perform better at work. Your elevated mood is also key to building sound relationships with your coworkers and clients. As a result, you’ll find it easier to collaborate with people if needed and become more efficient.

woman in a good mood

Boost Energy

There’s a famous saying that goes, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” People say this because they treat coffee as their energy booster. Caffeine is known to increase energy levels, among other benefits (e.g., better mood and memory). And this stimulant helps a person function better throughout the day–or at least until the caffeine’s effect wears off.

But physical activity can do the same thing, without the drawback of getting jitters. Regular exercise can improve the oxygen circulation in your body, which then helps you increase your energy and use it efficiently. You don’t have to spend an hour or more on your workout or do complex routines. Even a short and simple workout allows you to reap these benefits. For example, you can do a 15-minute qigong session during your lunch break, and it can already give you an energy boost.

Combat Stress

One thing that might hinder your work is stress. Whether you’re stressed about work or something personal, it can affect your workflow. For instance, if you suddenly think about a personal issue, you won’t be able to focus during your work hours. You’ll get less done and will have to move your tasks to the next day. When that day comes, you’ll become overwhelmed by your workload and won’t be able to do much. And the cycle goes on.

Exercising regularly will help you relieve stress and function better at work. It will stimulate the release of endorphins, which is the feel-good hormone. Simultaneously, exercise will reduce the levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone.

Better Mental Stamina

When you have so much to do, you might run out of mental stamina halfway through your workday. Doing a quick workout in the middle of the day can help you recharge.

A 2013 study found that physical activity is associated with better cognitive function. When you exercise, you improve your blood circulation. Basically, your brain gets more firepower and allows you to think better. So if you find yourself feeling mental fatigue, you can simply take a short break and do simple exercises, such as stretching or yoga, to refresh your brain.

What to Do

You may say that you don’t have time to exercise. It’s a common reason, and it’s certainly valid. Sometimes, things get too hectic. And when you do get free time, you just want to rest. But there’s always a way to sneak in exercise if you commit to it. It’s all about changing your mindset.

You can start small so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Perhaps in the first week, only do 15 minutes’ worth of exercise, which is considered the bare minimum. Once you’ve gotten used to doing daily exercise, you can increase the duration and do 30-minute workouts every day. Eventually, you’ll find yourself extending the time even longer.

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